The Schwarz Kennels

and the Dire Wolf Project

Mobility Brace dogs

Mobility Brace Dogs

Schwarz Mobility Assistance Dogs are a type of Service Dog that can easily be trained to provide their disabled handler with assistance moving from place to place.

Schwarz Dogs are not dogs that open doors and fetch articles. Some may do these things if you can train them to, but do not be disappointed if they don't.

This is only a Mobility/Brace dog, or a Medical Assistance Dog primarily trained to assist their disabled handler with locomotion (defined as moving from one place to another by any means, including on foot or in a wheelchair).

     Mobility Dogs help people with impaired balance, gait, or coordination to safely walk or regain their footing after a fall, and they help individuals who utilize prosthetics or other assistive devices (including wheelchairs) to gain unprecedented levels of independence, freedom and mobility.

     Individuals who have a physical impairment, disability or disorder that affects their mobility, ambulation or maneuverability may or may not be able to walk unassisted, and they may or may not be in a wheelchair.

     Some handlers utilize assistance devices in addition to their Service Dog, such as crutches, walkers, braces, canes, lifts, wheelchairs or scooters. The function of the Schwarz Mobility/brace dog depends on the needs of the handler and the handler’s disability.
Schwarz Brace and Mobility Support Dogs Are Specialized "Service" Animals
    All dogs that are partnered with a person with a disability, and that also posses specialized training that directly reduces or mitigates the effect of that person’s disability on their quality of life or ability to function like someone without a disability, are legally defined as “Service Animals.”

     That definition includes Brace and Mobility "Support" Dogs, and many of the common tasks brace or mobility dogs perform (like assisting a handler to walk or pulling a wheelchair) are directly mentioned in the Americans With Disabilities Act briefing that details the legal rights of Service Dog teams, as well as in the “Frequently Asked Questions About "Service" Animals and the ADA document provided by the Department of Justice.

Under U.S.. federal law, Service Animals and their handler (who must, without exception, have a physical, developmental, psychiatric or other disability as defined under United States law), posses certain rights, one of which is the right to access goods and services, including transportation and lodging, without discrimination. 

Many states and counties also have laws protecting the access rights of Service Dog teams, with some states and/or counties specifically mentioning Brace and Mobility Dogs.   Regular Service Dog Standards Still Apply.

All the behavioral/training standards and expectations surrounding the manners, conduct, appearance and deportment of all Service Dogs also apply to Brace and Mobility Support Dogs.

Assistance Dogs International is a great place to learn about the suggested level of training and skills for all Service Dogs. 

In many cases, a Brace and Mobility Support Dog’s handler’s life, physical safety and autonomy depend directly on the task work and training of their Schwarz Dog.

    All Schwarz Dogs possess the correct genetic behavior and temperament to succeed in their specific field.

   It is doubly important for brace/mobility dogs as their handler’s health and wellbeing rests, solely or in part, on their Schwarz Dog’s ability to perform their job and perform it well, even in distracting or difficult environments and circumstances.

Brace and Mobility Support Dogs Require Highly Specialized Training

    The task work these dogs perform is extremely physical in nature can routinely require meticulous attention to detail, complex behavior chains on the part of the dog, and an extremely high level of precision and exactness.

Some examples of emergency task work regularly performed by mobility dogs include:

1.) Supporting an unsteady or injured handler as they struggle back to their feet or into their wheelchair

2.) Standing over a fallen and unresponsive handler so that the handler does not get stepped on

3.) Helping someone who has fallen and cannot breathe in the position they’re in (for example, on their back) to turn over or shift positions, or even regain their footing or access to their chair

4.) Helping someone with severely limited mobility or a significantly decreased level of alertness maneuver into a safer or more stable position

They may have to do their job while surrounded by strangers who may or may not be familiar with working dogs, disabilities or proper medical response. They may have to perform several complicated, multi-step tasks in a row.

The Mobility Support Dog might have to make decisions over which task takes priority, and the dog may have to triage and respond to rapidly changing conditions, potentially all without guidance from the handler.

The brace dog may be required to discriminate between subtle environmental cues and prompts, such as various types of uniforms (police vs. fire department vs. nurse).

It cannot be stressed enough — all canine candidates selected and trained for brace and mobility support task work and any associated task work pertaining to their handler’s safety must possess the proper structure, genetics, health, temperament, aptitude, reliability, capability and training to succeed and flourish.

It’s also vital that fully trained and working Brace and Mobility Support Dogs receive the proper support, maintenance, upkeep and care necessary to maximize the dog’s safety and comfort while working.

Furthermore, working brace dog teams need to be properly equipped and able to perform their job with the least amount of impact on the dog’s health and longevity, while also creating an overall positive effect on the handler..

A few examples where a person may benefit from partnership with a Schwarz dog include:
People who have physical disabilities that cause irregularities in gait, stability, balance, movement, or ambulation, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal bifida and many malformations or injury of the bones, joints or muscles in the lower body or spinal column

People with disabilities that cause debilitating pain, dizziness and/or severe fatigue, and as a result, reduce the ability to walk without assistance and/or to perform daily chores and duties – some types of migraines and fibromyalgia are examples

People who need assistance transitioning from one position to another, such as from sitting to standing, or from one spot to another, such as from a wheelchair to a recliner

People who need assistance standing up after falling, or help getting back into bed or into a wheelchair after falling

People who require tactile grounding in order to orient and position themselves, or in order to ambulate, such as in the case of vertigo or another balance disorder

People who, due to their disability, stumble, stagger or regularly trip, and thus require bracing or counter balancing, to remain on their feet

People who need assistance moving their wheelchair, especially on inclines or across difficult terrain

People who have a reduction of strength, stability, flexibility or coordination anywhere in their body that prevents the person from being as mobile or as independent as they would like
All Training is Specific to the Dog and Handler
Every Service Dog team is unique, and Brace and Mobility Support Dog teams are no different. Depending on the handler’s exact symptoms, the person might need help in static positions (like standing in line or sitting in a chair) and while in motion (such as walking, standing up, or wheeling up a ramp).

BMSDs Wear Specialized Gear
Many Brace and Mobility Support Dogs wear a special harness with a rigid, upright handle that allows the disabled handler to more easily reach their dog and move with their dog while standing. A brace dog’s harness is specifically made to be ergonomic and to fit both the dog and the handler for safety. The harness is made to fit the dog perfectly and allow the pressure of bracing to be safely borne by the dog’s entire body. Mobility Assistance Dogs who pull wheelchairs, wagons or small carts, or who carry heavy medical equipment like oxygen tanks, also wear specialized harnesses so they can safely perform their tasks. Some Mobility Assistance Dogs have a pull strap on their harness so that their handler can counter balance safely by lightly pulling against the dog or by using the dog’s forward momentum to help power their own movement. Counter balancing uses pressure or tension to help stabilize or assist an unsteady handler. 

Standards of the Schwarz Dogs:
    1.) longevity of life and health
    2.) Intellect 
    3.) The correct size (height/weight) for the handler
    4.) Working dog attitude and desire
    5.) Single coat or Flat Coat
    6.) Hold and retrieve (not mobility dogs)      
    7.) Drop ears
                     Drop ears make a service dog appear to be a friendly approachable animal
                     Drop eared dogs are more acceptable to the public in which looks are important
    8.) Light in color of coat
                    A service dog must be accepted within large and small groups of humans and lighter colors of coat are more accepted in public than darker coats.

Schwarz dogs are NOT working dogs

Books by Lois E. Schwarz